Andrew Dipper

Jesterval 2013: Gordon Southern talks comedy, QI, John Lloyd and more

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Gordon Southern has two shows at Jesterval 2013. The first is a straight stand-up affair called The Kerfuffle about some of the amazing things that have happened to Southern in the last two years. He ambitiously describes the other, A Brief History of History, as “QI meets Horrible Histories.” Southern has actually worked on QI himself, and speaks to Giggle Beats about that, his appearance at Jesterval, his fascination with history and more.

AD: For those who maybe aren’t as familiar with your work, how would you describe yourself?

GS:  My business card says ‘international word clown.’ There’s jokes and stories but a lot of messing around as well.

AD: You’re doing two shows at Jesterval this year; The Kerfuffle is straight stand-up but the other (A Brief History of History) is more of a comedy lecture, if that’s fair to say?

GS:  A Brief History of History is a very silly, fast-paced show slash lecture.  It’s a bit of a multimedia assault on the senses. The Kerfuffle is very much about my life and some of the amazing things that happened in it in the last two years.

AD: What was your thinking behind A Brief History…? Are you a history buff yourself?

GS:  I wasn’t a history buff until I started working on this show! I read a book by E.H. Gombrich called A Little History of the World. It’s supposedly a children’s book but he managed to elegantly compress the major world events into a few hundred pages. That was where the idea began to blossom.

AD: You did warm up for QI in its first few series, working alongside producer John Lloyd. How much would you say that’s informed the show?

GS: That was where the idea took root, really. John Lloyd had a missionary zeal and an agenda he talked me through before the very first episode of QI. Comedy is the best way to get ideas and indeed education across. I’m sure this generation of kids get flashbacks to Horrible Histories when they sit exams.

AD: You’ve played A Brief History… abroad and tailored the history element to crowds in New Zealand and Australia. Will you be adapting the show for the Geordies?

GS: I might amend it to focus on the North East’s contribution to world history.  That Jarrow March of 1936 springs to mind. Or Gazza turning up with a fishing rod for Raoul Moat.

AD: What’s your favourite moment in history and why?

GS: The Renaissance. Leonardo da Vinci was a once-in-a-millennium kind of chap, a quantum leap in man’s evolution.

AD: Your wife is also appearing at Jesterval in the Frehd the Clown show. What’s it like being married to someone in the industry?

GS:  It means we can see each other! We have been on an international festival merry-go-round since 2004, and if we didn’t both have work in these festivals it would be pretty dull for the other one. We live out of suitcases half the year but still just about love it.

AD: Other than your own show, who would you recommend seeing at Jesterval?

GS: Frehd the Clown is a great kids’ show… I’m excited to be able to catch my mate Jason Cook premiering a new show, and Carey Marx and Andrew Maxwell did two of the best shows I saw at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe.

Gordon Southern‘s A Brief History of History is at Jesterval Comedy Festival on Sunday 6 October (4.30pm). His other show, The Kerfuffle, is at Jesterval on Saturday 5 October (5.30pm). Tickets are £5. Click for tickets.